Every year on 22 September, World Rhino Day is celebrated across the globe to create awareness about the different kinds of rhinoceros species as well as the dangers that they face. It probably won’t come as any surprise to you that the dramatic decline of rhino populations the world over is at the hands of humans, which remains the single biggest threat to rhino conservation efforts over the last decade.
But here in southern Africa, the tides are turning as governments, NGOs, companies and individuals have all banded together to help right the wrongs and ensure that both the black and white rhino have a bright future ahead.
A recent partnership between Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC), Exxaro Resources, Peace Parks Foundation and partners has seen a historic translocation whereby both black and white rhino have been reintroduced into Zinave National Park in Mozambique for the first time in four decades. This has not only marked the first founder population of rhino in a Mozambique national park in over 40 years but has made Zinave the country’s first ‘Big 5’ park.
Rewilding is at the heart of what Peace Parks does, as it is vital to restoring nature across large landscapes. The reintroduction of these mega-herbivores into Zinave is crucial to helping to restore balance in the ecosystem and, thanks to their healthy appetites and love for a mud wallow, can help fundamentally reshape the land around them for the better.
Why Are Rhino A Keystone Species?
Considered to be a ‘keystone species’ – an organism that helps define an entire ecosystem – rhinos perform many important biological services that many people are largely unaware of. As mentioned above, rhinos love a good mud bath, and by rolling around and wallowing in these pans, they help to keep waterholes open for other animals. After the nutrient-rich muddy soils dry on their skin, it gets distributed across the landscape, helping to enrich other areas.
Rhinos consume over 50 kilograms of food daily, and this all has to go somewhere… back to the soil in the form of dung. Their dung is high in nutrients and provides food for many different species, from insects to birds. Of course, rhinos are one of the iconic ‘big 5’ and are an important source of tourism and revenue for many national parks in Africa. This, in turn, helps create employment opportunities for the local communities and sustains a flourishing wildlife economy where humans and nature thrive!
A Note Of Thanks
Peace Parks Foundation would like to thank Conservation Solutions, Mozambique Wildlife Alliance, South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and the Mozambique Ministry of Land and the Environment, with additional funding provided by the German Postcode Lottery and MAVA Foundation. Without their help, this would not have been made possible!